Global Tuna Conservation

Why Tuna?
Tuna are some of the most important fish in our oceans, from their role in maintaining the balance of the ocean ecosystem to the millions of people that depend on them for protein.  Unfortunately, they are also in trouble—making the need for sustainable global fisheries clearer than ever before. The huge demand for tuna—as a popular ingredient in sushi, as tuna steaks, and as mass produced, affordable canned fish across much of Europe, Asia, and the United States—has resulted in overfishing and mismanagement of many tuna species.

Pew’s Global Tuna Conservation Campaign
There are 23 species of tuna, seven of which are fished commercially. Vessels catching 4.5 million tons of tuna annually are responsible for more hooks and nets in the water than any other fishery in the world. The world-wide and ever increasing demand for tuna, exacerbated by lax management, has fueled fraud, overfishing and threatens the health and sustainability of many of these species.

Pew’s Global Tuna Conservation Campaign is urging countries fishing for tuna to:

  • Enact strong measures that will lead to the recovery of the severely depleted Atlantic bluefin tuna population, including the enforcement of science-based catch limits and better tracking of the amount of tuna caught each year. 
  • Enact science-based conservation and management measures for other tuna populations, such as skipjack, bigeye and yellowfin in order to ensure healthy tuna populations, protect ocean ecosystems, and ensure the livelihoods of local communities that depend on a healthy marine environment.

Strong Science and Management Key to Tuna’s Survival
To achieve these goals, Pew is working with governments, other conservation groups, and industry to implement science-based catch limits and improve the quality of data used to manage the fisheries.   Tuna stocks are fished by dozens of countries, with a significant amount of tuna coming from the high seas, areas that start 200 miles from shore and cover approximately half of the Earth. Their management is largely overseen by Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs)—international bodies made up largely of countries that seek to manage fisheries for certain species in specific geographic areas. Pew engages at a number of RFMOs to improve tuna management in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Read more about Pew's Pacific tuna work

Read more about Pew's bluefin tuna work in the Atlantic Ocean

Photo credit: NOAA




  • New Scientific Report Shows Pacific Bluefin Population Down 96.4%

    Jan 09, 2013 - Just three days after a single Pacific bluefin tuna fetched a jaw-dropping $1.76 million at a fish auction in Tokyo, Japan, scientists released a new stock assessment for this species—and the findings are shocking.

  • Earth Negotiations Bulletin from Pew-IDDRI Bluefin Tuna Seminar

    Nov 16, 2010 - The seminar entitled “What is the Future of Bluefin Tuna? Perspectives before the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT)” took place on 16 November at the Oceanographic Institute in Paris, France. The meeting immediately preceded the 17th Special Meeting of ICCAT (ICCAT 2010), and was attended by over 200 participants representing intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, academia and representatives of the media.

  • Conserving Atlantic Bluefin Tuna with Spawning Sanctuaries

    Oct 26, 2010 - Atlantic bluefin tuna populations in both the western and eastern Atlantic Ocean are currently at very low levels, and additional management measures are needed to rebuild their populations.

  • Domestic Economic Impacts of a CITES Appendix I Listing for Bluefin Tuna

    Dec 18, 2009 - This report examines what the economic impact would be on U.S. seafood markets, from fishermen to retailers, if bluefin tuna were listed among the most threatened creatures by the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). It explores the current market for bluefin in the United States, including landings, exports, imports and re‐exports.

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